I can meet with so and so. I have the “space” (aka a sliver of time crammed between two other meetings).”  

I can squeeze in this work.  I mean, there’s always nights and weekends.”

“Thursday night is free; I can volunteer for that thing I don’t really want to at my kid’s school. That’s what a good parent does, right?”

I can do all sorts of things because I have;

a.) high need to achieve

b.) feelings of intense guilt when saying no

c.) comparison problems (if she can do it then so can I!)

It’s a nasty little recipe for burnout, resentment and self-loathing.

Is it just me, or do you do it too? 

Let me give you an example;

For the last six years, I’ve participated in the Cross Fit Open. It’s an annual competition where athletes test their fitness in a six-week series of workouts designed to crush your soul.

Each time I’ve chosen the harder workouts because I know I can do them.  If I can do them, I should do them, right?

I mean, wouldn’t I be weak not to?

Aren’t I avoiding my potential if I don’t?

If it’s not uncomfortable, then I’m not growing, right?

But here’s what happens; I end up doing crazy stuff like doing workouts over and over to shave time or gain a rep.  Bruising my ribs on a pull-up bar, swinging from rings like a sloth hopped on caffeine, ripping my hands and leaving in tears because I didn’t do better.

I end up;

-scattered and unfocused at work because I’ve left no time to think.

-missing important things with my family.

-with poor performance because I’m exhausted.

It’s taken me a while to learn that just because I can, doesn’t mean I  should.

If you’re like me; here’s what I want you to know.

Making a choice not to do something, even though you can, is a sign of mental and physical strength.

I talk about presence a lot, and here I’m talking about the presence of mind to identify and tolerate the discomfort of saying no to something you can do but shouldn’t, for any number of reasons.

My friend, don’t you want to be less stressed, less fatigued, and have more time and energy?

Listen, the next time you find yourself saying “I can!” be sure to and stop right there and ask yourself if you should.


Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.




I signed up to do the scaled version of the Open this year. Fewer weights, reps, and different movements. I’ll have more fun and be a whole lot less sore.



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